Man and woman are arguing

The Art of Conflict Resolution: Navigating Roommate and Peer Issues

While in higher education, you’ll be learning many subjects and covering numerous topics. Yet outside the classroom, there will also be opportunities to learn, especially when handling issues with others. You will most likely be in shared living situations with people in your earlier years, and they will be relative strangers to you. That means there may be differences of opinion on how you deal with things, which leads to inevitable conflict. This is a fact of life for people who come from different backgrounds and have unique and diverse personalities.

Despite this being a hardship, it’s also an excellent opportunity to practice resolving conflict effectively and use it as an opportunity to add it to your ever-growing skill set. Conflict resolution is all about going through a process to find a solution between all affected parties and coming to an agreement. It requires us to be patient and to show a willingness to be able to compromise as well. Let’s look at the possible conflicts that could occur during your tenure at university.

How to effectively handle roommate conflicts

This is bound to happen even to those with the best intentions. Roommates may not even get to a heated point of contention and can start small with minor disagreements, such as the room’s cleanliness level and what acceptable noise levels look like. Of course, this can expand to more major issues, such as simply being unable to cohabitate with someone due to too many differences or even arguing over financial disputes. Yet, no matter how small or serious the issue is, there are always ways to get to a point of compromise where everyone can be somewhat satisfied.

First – it’s all about open and honest communication. Talk to the affected parties, and let them know you’re willing to talk and find a solution. You want to openly share exactly how you feel to this person so that there won’t be any confusion about what a resolution could possibly look like. Putting all the different perspectives front and center will help with the next steps of roommate conflict resolution.

Once it’s all out in the open, you want to set clear expectations

Expectations can include what all the involved parties want, from how to share food items to whether guests can be invited over to everything possible with roommates. Not only does every topic need to be discussed, but it also needs to be agreed upon so that no conflicts can arise later on down the road due to a misunderstanding or confusion about any of the expectations.

At the same time, it’s not just one side putting out demands and the other side accepting them without discussion. There needs to be a willingness for compromise as part of setting these expectations. Be willing to negotiate and give up some things that aren’t that concerning to get a little back. For example, you can agree to quiet hours starting an hour later if they agree to clean the place twice a week instead of once a week.

If the conflict still doesn’t seem to be completely resolved, you will need to seek help from a third party. In this case, you can look towards university resources such as the local Resident Assistant (RA) or speak with someone at the university to get a mediator if it is too much for an RA to handle themselves. Both these can be effective in helping you meet in the middle with a roommate if personal attempts fail. This gives you a backup plan you can refer to if it’s too much of an uphill struggle between the concerning parties.

A look at Peer conflicts

Not all conflicts happen where you sleep, and they can occur in other settings, too, ranging from your daily classes to university clubs to those social gatherings and parties. With that said, there are ways to work on conflicts that crop up in these scenarios, giving you a stress-free environment and making the experience much more enjoyable.

First – you want to avoid feeding the rumor mill. If gossip goes around, it’s baseless information that can compound negatively. It’s always a good option that if there’s going to be an issue, you should directly speak with the person instead of spreading negative talk about the situation.

This means being respectful at all times with people. You must do this when you head into your first job and leave university, so it’s always a good time to practice. Even if you disagree with someone about something, that doesn’t mean you should ignore their opinions or dismiss their feelings.

In fact, you should be completely focusing on the problem that caused the conflict in the first place. Don’t make accusations or attack people verbally or physically because that will escalate the situation further.

The final lesson to be learned here is one of forgiveness. Be willing to forgive the other person for their role in the conflict. Otherwise, you may feel that you compromised too much or took something too personally, which will be the starting ingredients for the next battle. You may think it’s too awkward or act too stubborn to forgive the other person, but you will feel as if a huge burden has been released.

Know you aren’t alone

Many universities have systems and support teams in place to help you out if the conflict cannot be easily resolved. So, you want to check in with your counselor to help guide you to the right place. Often, there can even be a campus mediation service or some system to help bring unbiased parties to the situation and push for an agreeable resolution and a positive outcome.

In the end

Don’t let the prospect of conflict deter you. At some point in life, there will be a point of contention, and how you handle it can lead to a satisfactory outcome or another channel for stress. Learning it sooner rather than later will undoubtedly lead to a better result for all.